Divergent Neural Pathways Emanating from the Lateral Parabrachial Nucleus Mediate Distinct Components of the Pain Response

Neuron. 2020 Jun 17;106(6):927-939.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.03.014. Epub 2020 Apr 13.


The lateral parabrachial nucleus (lPBN) is a major target of spinal projection neurons conveying nociceptive input into supraspinal structures. However, the functional role of distinct lPBN efferents in diverse nocifensive responses have remained largely uncharacterized. Here we show that that the lPBN is required for escape behaviors and aversive learning to noxious stimulation. In addition, we find that two populations of efferent neurons from different regions of the lPBN collateralize to distinct targets. Activation of efferent projections to the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) or lateral periaqueductal gray (lPAG) drives escape behaviors, whereas activation of lPBN efferents to the bed nucleus stria terminalis (BNST) or central amygdala (CEA) generates an aversive memory. Finally, we provide evidence that dynorphin-expressing neurons, which span cytoarchitecturally distinct domains of the lPBN, are required for aversive learning.

Keywords: Pdyn; affect; amygdala; bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; dynorphin; hypothalamus; lateral parabrachial nucleus; noxious; pain; periaqueductal gray.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus / physiology
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons, Efferent / physiology
  • Nociception / physiology*
  • Optogenetics
  • Pain
  • Parabrachial Nucleus / physiology*
  • Periaqueductal Gray / physiology
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology